Eating My Words: Lamb Stew with Dried Plums from The Hunger Games

Rebecca Peters-Golden

by Rebecca Peters-Golden on June 8, 2011

In the latest installment of Eating My Words, bluestocking columnist Rebecca Peters-Golden takes on the latest beloved-slash-controversial book series-slash-movie blockbuster: The Hunger Games. Plan your viewing parties now.

I always delight in reading novels that totally love their food—feasting, snacking, cooking, smelling; I love it all. There is, however, something almost shiveringly good about a delicious description of food in a book where food is scarce. This is the case in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games (hi, the title kind of says it all).

When kickass Katniss Everdeen isn’t trying to find enough food to survive or interacting with Greasy Sae, the old woman in District 12 who famously says, “Once it’s in the soup, I’ll call it beef,” she’s, you know, killing other teenagers to provide a vicious propaganda of bread and circus for the overprivileged and overfed citizens of the Capitol. In short, for Katniss, food has always been a necessity and very rarely a pleasure.

hunger games lamb stew

It’s for this reason, I think, that Katniss’ fondness for lamb stew stands out. On the train that will take her to the Capitol, Katniss views each meal as a chance to build up her strength, to perhaps help her stay alive a little longer in the Game. Although she tastes many of the Capitol’s delicacies, it is a homely stew that she likes the best, “made with tender chunks of lamb and dried plums” and served on a bed of wild rice. Although she shovels it into her mouth without thinking on the train, when she is interviewed in the Capitol, it’s very much on her mind:

“So, Katniss, the Capitol must be quite a change from District Twelve. What’s impressed you most since you arrived here?” asks Caesar. . . .
I rack my brain for something that made me happy here.
Be honest, I think. Be honest.
“The lamb stew,” I get out.
Caesar laughs, and vaguely I realize some of the audience has joined in.
“The one with the dried plums?” asks Caesar. I nod. “Oh, I eat it by the bucketful.”

And, never has hunger so been nature’s salt than in a scene during the Games, when (*spoiler*) Katniss and Peeta are rewarded for their first kiss with the only real meal they’ve had since the Games begun. “There’s a feast—fresh rolls, goat cheese, apples, and best of all, a tureen of that incredible lamb stew on wild rice.” As a reader, it’s like you’ve been hungry for delicious food descriptions as Katniss has been deprived of food, and this stew definitely hits the spot . . . even if you aren’t fighting for your life at the hands of a corrupt government.

So, even though the Hunger Games movie will likely disappoint, at least you can follow the casting call from your couch, and sop up a bowl of this delicious stew as you watch the blogosphere rage.

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